Tag Archives: Ashton Gibbs

Pitt 98 WVU 95 (3OT)

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Game Recap

Wow.  Just wow.  I wrote a post a while ago about the top 10 games in the Pete (you can read it here).  Well, we have a new #1 by a landslide.  That was one of the best college basketball games I’ve watched, on TV or in person.  As usual, some thoughts:

  • Rebounding should have cost the Panthers the game.  It was pretty tight statistically, but Pitt was getting killed on the glass.  At the end of regulation, WVU had a 14 rebound advantage, and that’s after Pitt had grabbed a few towards the end.  In the overtimes, Pitt out-rebounded WVU by 7.  You bet that’s why they were in control most of the way.
  • WVU missed 3 of 5 free throws in the final minute  of regulation which started with a 7 point Mountaineer edge.  It was eerily similar to Louisville’s collapse.
  • Speaking of that 7 point lead with a minute left, I saw a lot of people leaving at that point.  I noticed a lot of those seats re-filled during the overtime (I guess they caught the game in the lobby and turned back), but there were still some empty chairs left.  They deserve it.  I’ve never gotten leaving early, and I hope this teaches them a lesson.  Oh, well.  It’s one more thing to add to the legend of this game.  You have to love when a team is counted out by their own fans, then proceed to resurrect themselves like Lazarus.
  • All those rebounds?  They led to a 15-0 second chance points lead by the Mountaineers at the end of regulation.  More proof that Pitt got away with one here.
  • Huge bench night for Pitt.  The Panthers got 34 points from the reserves.  Travon Woodall looked good.  Gil Brown had a lot of those points even though he’s a de-facto starter.  J.J. Richardson had another solid game.
  • Speaking of J.J., he definitely out-played Dante Taylor again.  Big time.  Dante’s an amazing athlete, but he just doesn’t have the hunger to play the low post (and before you say anything, I’m not sure he’s quick enough to play PF in the Big East, either).  He just needs to get stronger in the off-season.
  • I’ll expand on Travon, as well.  He had a great game at the point.  12 points, 6 assists, and 0 turnovers in 31 minutes.  That sure looks more like a PG line to me.  If he can do that consistently, Pitt will be in great shape.  But consistency is the key.
  • Good job by the Zoo.  I heard a few rumblings of a bulls**t cheer, but that never caught on.  Besides that, there was only a few go home mountaineers chants (some kids switched the last word around to involve a word that starts with q, but they were also drowned out by the kids saying it the better way).  I can live with that.  Overall the kids were loud, intimidating, and positive.  I’m proud to have them representing my school.  I’d like to think that the jerk who threw stuff in Morgantown is very unhappy somewhere tonight.  It’s a good thought.
  • Ashton Gibbs missed a free throw to ice the game at the end of the first overtime, but got redemption by draining two in the third to make WVU try for a 3.  You’ve gatta love that.
  • Brad Wanamaker had a huge night going 7-14 from the field and 9-11 from the free throw line.  He did have 4 turnovers and 3 minute stretch at the beginning of the second half with a bunch of mistakes, but I’ll take this performance any day.  He was one of the few guys who wasn’t afraid to drive on this Mountaineer defense.
  • WVU is a better team than Pitt this year, but Pitt had the desire down the stretch.  I love that.  I need to see it every game.

Great win.  I’m all smiles tonight.  Pitt parlayed the Syracuse upset into a few more quality wins.  They’re going to have an opportunity to do the same thing coming up against Marquette, Villanova and Notre Dame.  I’d love to see a repeat performance.

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Catch-Up

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Sorry for the absence of posts lately, but I’ve been a little preoccupied with the snow the past few days.  If you aren’t in town and don’t have access to a news source, Pittsburgh looks roughly like the image above right now.  It sucks.  But, enough with the snow.  I’m sick of talking about it already.  Lets get into the nice diversion from real life that is the sports world.

The Pens went on a two game skid over the past few days losing back-to-back games to Montreal and Washington.  The 5-3 loss to the Canadiens looks really easy to diagnose when you look at the stat sheet.  We were in the penalty box for literally half the game (29 penalty minutes for the Pens).  The reality, however, is a little different.  The Habs only scored 1 goal on the power play, going 1 for 7.  The real reason the Pens lost this game was because Fleury had a bad night.  It happens.  He let in some softies and was even lifted from the game after giving up 4 goals.  It’s not something to be overly concerned about, though.  The second game was just weird.  The Pens jumped out to a 4-1 lead halfway through the game, and still led 4-2 at the second intermission.  It was at that point that they just died.  The Caps got a slew of chances in the third period, cashed in on a couple of them, and won in overtime.  It really makes you shake your head.  I’ve got two theories on why this happened.  The first is that the Caps are a very good team offensively, and they got a fire lit under them for the third period.  That’s a combo that would be hard for anyone to stop.  The second theory is that the Pens were tired.  The Montreal game was the night before (the Caps game was at noon).  To get to Washington in the snow, they had to fly to Trenton, NJ and bus it.  They arrived very late after mostly sleeping on the bus.  I think dying at the end of an emotional game like that given their situation is totally understandable.  I may be in the minority, but I’m willing to brush this one off a little bit.  Plus, if you want to look at the glass half full, it was a tremendously entertaining hockey game that was nationally televised and hopefully brought in some new fans.

As poorly as the Pens have played over the past few days, the Panthers have been going in completely the opposite direction.  Against Seton Hall, the Pitt regained its shot, shooting 51.7% from the field.  After disappearing in Morgantown, Gil Brown dropped 23 points and Brad Wannamaker had 13.  Ashton Gibbs broke out of his slump a little bit and saw the ball go through the net at least while going 3 for 7 on the day.  Best of all, Pitt out-rebounded the Pirates 36-27 and only allowed 8 offensive boards.  I’m drawing a line in the sand and saying that Pitt’s goal should be to limit opponents to less than 10 offensive boards per game.  It’s good that they met it for this game.  Overall, the 83-58 drubbing exorcised a lot of demons even though it was against a less than stellar defense.  That trend continued against Robert Morris on Monday where the Panthers notched a 77-53 win.  It was very close for the first half as the Colonials shot 48% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.  They were challenged shots as well, which is why I wasn’t really worried.  Sure enough, RMU cooled off a lot in the second half, and Pitt was able to win going away.  The Panthers had a 39-26 advantage on the boards (with only 9 offensive boards for RMU, so they still pass the test), but they only held a 16-14 edge at the half.  That was a bit troubling.  RMU really shot themselves in the foot in this one with their style of play.  They were very aggressive defensively, and very physical with the rebounds, and that led to a lot of fouls.  Two of their starters were in foul trouble by halftime.  It really handcuffed what they could do.  So, in general, it looks like the Panthers are starting to heat up again with a rematch against WVU coming up on Friday.  I guess all it took was half empty gyms because of a snow storm.  STAGE FRIGHT!  That’s their problem!  But, seriously, it’s good to see the shots start to fall again.  I’m still just a little nervous for the long term health of the program that it relies so much on streaky shooting this year.

So that’s pretty much what you missed (besides that silly ‘Super Bowl’ thing.  How bout’ that Saint defense, by the way?).  I hope everyone out there made it through the storm in good shape (you’ve at least got power if you’re reading this.  That’s a start).  I’ll be back tomorrow night for a Pens recap.  I promise.

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Pitt 63 St. John’s 53

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Game Recap

This was absolutely the tale of two halves.  In the first half, Pitt was resorting back to its bad habits of the Seton Hall game.  They were turning the ball over way too much, they were ice cold shooting, and they were being out-rebounded.  In the second half, the shots started to fall and the turnovers dried up, but the rebounding differential continued to grow.  I’m a little concerned about that, but I’ll take the win for now.

Pitt finished the first half 8 for 27 from the field.  The main thing keeping them in the game was the fact that St. John’s wasn’t doing much better (they were 11 for 28 in the first half).  The other thing keeping Pitt in the game was the fouls.  St. John’s was extremely aggressive defensively, and the referees were never afraid to use the whistles.  As a result, Pitt shot 24 free throws in the game and were able to make 21 of them.  I think a lot of the struggles from the field was because Pitt was forcing some shots.  Pitt had 5 assists on the 8 baskets in the first half.  They had 11 assists on 12 baskets in the second half when they heated up.  I think that stat is a great indicator of what happened.  In the first half, a lot of guys were shooting in a narrow window (as a defender was closing in on them).  It was just enough to throw off some shots by a bit.  When you get an assist, you generally have much more space in which to shoot.  It works.

Another thing that changed the luck of the Panthers was Ashton Gibbs warming up.  He was 2 for 7 in the first half.  That turned to 3 for 6 in the second, with most of the misses coming at the beginning of the period.  The difference was that he attempted 3 3-pointers in the first half, and only 1 in the second (at the beginning of the half).  He wasn’t feeling it from outside, so he started taking some 15 footers to get back in the groove.  I like that.  It’s smart.  He didn’t test out the outside shot again, but hopefully it will start to reappear again down in Tampa.

As I said before, the rebounding was a major concern for me in this game.  Pitt was out-rebounded 41-31 in this game.  It’s also the one thing that didn’t improve in the second half.  It grew from a 4 rebound Red Storm advantage at halftime to the eventual 10 rebound edge at the end.  It’s not hard to see where the problem was, either.  St. John’s was out-rebounding the Panthers 22-8 when Pitt was on offense.  That’s about average.  I’ll take that.  But when St. John’s was on offense, Pitt only out-rebounded them 23-19 and it was just about even all game.  You can’t be at a 50/50 split with rebounds when you’re on defense.  That’s way too many second chance opportunities and extra possessions.  And St. John’s made the Panthers pay with 17 second chance points (and it could have been much worse).  So what was the problem?  Well, it was two fold.  First of all, St. John’s was terrible at making bunny lay-ups all game.  They would make a great move to get to the basket, and then throw the ball off the glass to the other side of the court.  It wasn’t even close most of the time.  Pitt, consequently after going for the block instead of the rebound, was not in position for the board.  When you go for a block, it’s very difficult to get a rebound.  When 3 guys go for a block, you almost concede an offensive board.  There has to be some guys that just put a hand in the face and then turn around and box the guy out.  The second thing that hurt Pitt was St. John’s length.  They got a hand in on a lot of rebounds and just poked it loose until they could come up with it.  The solution is easy: grab rebounds with 2 hands and the other guy can’t poke it away.  We were going for way too many one handed rebounds in the first half, but towards the end of the game I saw a lot of strong rebounds.  I think Jamie mentioned that one during the game.  The rebounding problem should be an easy fix, but judging by the fact that its been going on for a while, it may take a while for the instruction of the coaching staff to click.

Overall, it wasn’t Pitt’s best game ever by a long shot.  But a win is a win.  Especially in this conference.  I saw a lot of improvements in the second half, and I hope they continue on through the next couple of games.  South Florida is up next on Sunday.  This is one where you have to take care of business.  Easier said then done, however, as you just saw tonight (Seton Hall just went down in the Sun Dome).  I’ll be anxious to see how the guys do.

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Pitt 61 Seton Hall 64

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Game Recap

Ouch.  This one stung.  This was the first game of the year that we lost where it was widely expected that we’d win.  I mean Indiana wasn’t a good team, but we were still in our young, inexperienced, two great players not playing stage.  And everyone realizes that Georgetown and Texas are great teams.  But I think it was universally expected that Pitt would beat Seton Hall.  I think some people who knew what they were doing were saying that this could be a trap game.  The Pirates have one of the best offenses in the conference.  But they also have one of the worst defenses.  I’ll admit I expected us to score in the 70’s and win.  So what happened?

Well, lets examine Pitt’s defense vs. Seton Hall’s offense first.  As I mentioned, the Pirates have a fantastic offense.  They’ve got a ton of guys who can shoot, they’re very very athletic, they’re deceptively experienced (most of the team are transfers), and they were hot coming off a defeat of Louisville.  Things were going our way out of the gate with Seton Hall’s best offensive threat, Jeremy Hazell, in almost immediate foul trouble.  He ended up with 9 points.  So he wasn’t it.  When you really look at the score sheet, one thing pops out at you: Seton Hall’s frontcourt scoring.  The guards combined for 27 points.  The forwards had 37 (with one less player contributing).  Worse yet, the starting forward combo of Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson had 34 of those 37 points.  So it seems like we identified the problem.  The troubling thing is that most of those were fairly easy buckets.  The frontcourt of Seton Hall was much faster/quicker/more athletic than Dante Taylor and Gary McGhee.  They used it to their advantage beautifully.  The really annoying thing was that we weren’t leveraging the size advantage we had in response.  Gary and Dante combined for 5 rebounds.  For one of them that’s bad.  For both of them, that’s inexcusable.  Especially against a team that’s not too great on the boards.  They also combined for just 6 points (all of them Gary’s).  If you’re so much bigger and stronger than the opponent, you have to post them up and rebound over them.  We got neither from our frontcourt.  But, still, the Pirates only had 64 points.  That’s not insurmountable by any means.  What happened at the other end?

Well, the lack of frontcourt scoring was a big detriment, but the biggest reason we lost was absolutely the turnover margin.  We ended the game with 20 turnovers (14 in the first half).  And it was very counter to Seton Hall’s season average (they’re only averaging a little over 10 a game).  You’re not going to win many games that way, especially when you only forced 10 at the other end.  Our shooting wasn’t great (35.3%), but it was good enough to win.  Because of the turnovers, we had 5 less shots than Seton Hall.  It was the difference in the game.  The only thing really keeping us in the game was the foul differential.  We shot 9 more free throws than the Pirates thanks to a couple of technical fouls.  We shot very well from the line and took the gifts.  That was one of the few bright spots.  Ashton lead the way with 23 points, but 15 of them came from a perfect day from the charity stripe.  He continues to be icy cold from the field.  I think defenders are clueing into the fact that he’s a good shooter and he’s hearing footsteps.  When he does have a bit of a window to shoot (which is rare), it’s usually very tiny.  Hopefully, this slump of his will get defenders to back off a bit and he can heat back up.

It was just a frustrating day, overall.  We played poorly.  We made a lot of mistakes.  We should have beaten this team.  But that’s the good news.  Seton Hall was not better than us.  There are some matchup problems there, but we killed ourselves more than they killed us.  That’s a positive message moving forward.  It’s also something to keep in mind when they make the return trip in a week and a half.

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Pitt 66 Georgetown 74

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Game Recap

This was a fantastic game for about 32 minutes that was played at an extremely high level.  All that happened is that Pitt blinked first.  It happens.  We were kind of playing with house money at this point, anyway.  Look at it this way: we don’t have to play Georgetown, Louisville, Syracuse, UConn or Cincinnati again this year, and we only have one conference loss.  The rest of the schedule is much easier (well, relatively easier considering it’s still the Big East).  So I wouldn’t get down.  Georgetown is a good team, and Pitt was able to play with them.

The whole game came down to 4 minutes in the second half.  At 7:48, Jermaine Dixon had just hit a 3 pointer to put Pitt up by 2.  Both teams were shooting the lights out and playing ferocious defense.  The zoo was really getting behind the team.  It was basically a coin flip, but I liked our chances.  At that point if it got to a free throw contest you had to favor Pitt.  Then we just inexplicably went cold.  We went scoreless over the next 4 minutes or so.  In that time, we went 0-2 shooting (0-3 counting missing the front end of a one and one), had 2 turnovers, 2 fouls and most importantly were out-rebounded 5-2.  That two point lead turned into a 7 point Georgetown lead.  Down 7 with 3 and a half minutes left, we had to take some gambles, and you’re not going to hit the lottery twice in one week.  Even when Gil Brown broke the scoreless streak with a pair of free throws, we still struggled to shoot.  Over the last 3:30, we were 4 of 11 from the field.  I’m not sure why we cooled off, though.  Maybe it was that it was late in the game and our lets got a little wobbly.  Who knows.

The reason we were shooting the lights out and still only just keeping up with the Hoyas through the first 30 minutes was that their size was really giving us problems.  Monroe and Vaughn combined for 16 rebounds and 24 points.  Gary did very well defensively, but Dante looked overmatched at points.  And when Monroe had Gilbert or Nasir guarding him, he went straight to the post and abused them.  The big thing for Georgetown, however, was the outside shooting.  They were 7 for 10 on the day, and they were fairly contested shots.  When someone does that to you, you just have to tip your cap and move on.  I mean, all in all, it just wasn’t our day.  We went cold.  Georgetown was hot.  It happens.  I’m ready to move on.  Some random thoughts:

  • I thought for sure that Georgetown’s depth would come into play here.  Their 5 starters usually play about 3/4 of the game.  That was absolutely the case in this one (with the exception of Austin Freeman who was in foul trouble).  I kept waiting for them to wear down and they didn’t.  Kudos to them for being well conditioned.
  • Ashton Gibbs had a game he would like to forget.  He went 3 for 16 from the field.  It happens.  I just hope this doesn’t mess with his mind too much.
  • Gary played very well again in the post.  We wasn’t able to post up on Georgetown’s big men which would have been a huge help, but I’ve basically given up on that thought.  He was very good defensively, and put in 7 points on offense.  That’s better than nothing.
  • Some calls didn’t go our way at the end, but that’s not why we lost.  We lost because our shooting went cold.  I’ll admit that its very frustrating when the toss-ups stop going your way in critical situations, however.
  • Chris Wright killed us.  Now, Samardo Samuels almost killed us on Saturday, but that was because of a matchup problem.  Chris Wright was matched against our best defender (Jermaine Dixon) most of the game and still put up 27 points.  He was very quick cutting to the basket, and was 3-3 from beyond the arc.  Once again, all you can do is tip your hat to a great performance and hope you meet him again.  I don’t think he would be able to have a repeat performance.
  • I bet a lot of people will make a big deal about the 8 game win streak and 31 game home win streaks coming to an end.  Don’t be fooled.  That stuff doesn’t matter.  It’s just a good story line.  What matters is getting into the tournament.  The committee cares who you beat, not how long of a win streak you were able to put together.
  • Seton Hall is up next.  We’ve got a bunch of guys from Jersey on the team.  Hopefully going home gives them some motivation (I’m looking at you, Ashton).

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Pitt 66 Mount St. Mary’s 48

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Game Recap

Well, the news out of Oakland was that Jamie Dixon was really working his players this week.  The result was probably their best played game of the season yesterday.  Which isn’t saying all that much about this team.  That stats didn’t seem too bad.  We didn’t shoot the lights out (45.6%), but we weren’t as inept as we have been at other points this year (I’m really grasping at straws now).  We shot 23% from beyond the arc: once more not outstanding but we’ve been worse.  10 turnovers isn’t too bad.  We had a solid 37-26 edge on rebounds.  I think those shooting numbers can be improved as Jermaine gets some more playing time and Gilbert gets back into the swing of things, but this might be about as good as this team will get.  We still have absolutely no post production.  Gary had a decent game, but Dante had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes.  Now, he’s been struggling mightily with the physicality of the college game.  That much is obvious and understandable.  And the refs in this one were being a little more loose (which is fine.  They were consistently loose).    So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he didn’t have a great day.  But a point and a board for every 7.5 minutes is not an acceptable level of production for anyone playing the center position.  I don’t care who you are, how old you are, or how highly you were recruited.  I’ll give Dante some credit.  He played a lot stronger yesterday than he has in previous games.  The improvement is visible.  But he’s got to get better.  Especially on the offensive end.

The main story line I saw was the pace of the game.  Each team had around 53 possessions which is obscenely low.  I’ll put it this way.  If each team takes the entire 35 seconds and takes a shot with a defensive rebound every time, there would be 34 possessions for each team.  We weren’t much above that pace.  It’s very obvious that Coach Dixon’s strategy with the hand he’s been dealt is to slow the game way way down, play good defense and hope that we make less mistakes than our opponent.  It’s going back to the original Pitt basketball that Ben Howland brought, but it’s probably even more exaggerated.  It’s not a bad idea with this group, but we’ve got to rebound and play defense better if we’re going to be successful at it.  It seems to be what’s being stressed because I’m noticing improvements in both areas that are stronger than what’s happening on the offensive end.  The number of defensive lapses against Mt. St. Mary’s was drastically reduced from the beginning of the season.  We got a huge rebounding margin that was partly due to the Mountaineers being a pretty bad rebounding team, and partly due to some better technique.  At the beginning of the season, we were taking rebounds that came to us.  On Saturday, we were going after and grabbing rebounds.  We weren’t letting them come to us, and we were grabbing them with 2 hands and holding them strong.  It was a fantastic sight.

Offensively, we’re still a mess.  We have no consistent scoring after Gibbs and Wanamaker.  Jermaine Dixon is starting to take some more shots (and therefore get some more points), but who else can step up.  Travon Woodall is more of a distributor, and his shot hasn’t been there for the past couple of games.  Chase Adams is may be too unselfish (never thought I’d say that).  Nasir Robinson hasn’t been the same since he dislocated his finger.  Gary McGhee has really improved some of his technique but he’s got the worst pair of hands I’ve ever seen (they don’t keep that stat, but I’m sure half of the entry passes to him are fumbled out of bounds).  We’ve already covered Taylor.  I sure hope Gilbert has been shooting around while he waits, because we could really use him putting the ball through the hoop a few times.  It’s obviously not the priority of the coaches, but if we could find some deeper scoring, it would go a really long way for this team.

So that’s that.  The defense and especially rebounding have really improved.  The offense continues to struggle.  We’re going to play some really boring basketball over the next few months.  I’m a little worried about Big East play.  I don’t think this team is ready at all.  But in about a week it’ll be here, so ready or not we have to go.  We really stepped up our game to play Texas.  Hopefully something like that will happen again.  That may be our only shot at a .500 league record.  Ohio is the last non-conference game on Tuesday night.  The Bobcats are a decent MAC team, and they love to run the floor (at least they have in the past, I haven’t seen them yet this year).  It should really be a challenge for the backcourt.

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Pitt 47 New Hampshire 32

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Game Recap

During the season, I generally watch an average of about 5 to 10 college basketball games a week.  By the end of the season, I’ll probably have watched about 150-200 or so.  So over the course of my life, it’s no stretch to say that the number of college basketball games I’ve taken in numbers in the thousands.  Well, never have I witnessed in any of those thousands of games  a worse basketball game than what I just witnessed (including games between the likes of Lehigh and Qinnipiac which I watched last night).  And it’s not even close.  That score up there is not a type-o.  It really was 47-32 and just a plethora of suck at both ends of the floor.

So, how exactly did it get so bad?  Well, New Hampshire is easy: they shot 23.5% from the field.  That’s a good way to only get 32 points.  Pitt wasn’t doing anything special on defense.  New Hampshire just had one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen.  There were, no lie, at least a dozen legitimate airballs.  Not blocks.  Just totally missing the rim…and the backboard….and thankfully just missing the poor ball boy under the hoop as well.  It was so bad that the students got tired of chanting AIIIIIRR BALLLLLLL every time and gave up after about 6 of them.  Now, the Wildcats have shot much better over the rest of the season.  They average 41% on the year.  They have in fact won a few games.  This was totally out of character for them, and this is not indicative of the program, but they just sucked bad tonight.

So, what about Pitt?  47 points is a bit low.  What happened?  Well, we didn’t exactly set the nets ablaze at 40.5% on the game (which was an improvement over the around 15% or so we shot in the first half).  But the glaring thing on the stat sheet is the unbalanced scoring.  Ashton Gibbs had 23.  Brad Wanamaker had 19.  That’s 42 of the 47 points right there.  Nobody else had an impact.  Gary McGhee had 0 points.  Nasir Robinson had 0 points.  Dante Taylor had 2 and Dwight Miller had 1.  That is an absolutely mind-blowing lack of production from the frontcourt.  I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to see that that’s where the problem was last night.  So what happened?  Well, Gary just couldn’t collect the ball (he fumbled it out of bound or into a defenders hands at least a half a dozen times) and nobody was aggressive.  New Hampshire, to their credit, did one thing right.  They were physical and aggressive on defense.  Pitt did not match that intensity at all.  Look at the numbers.  Gary only had 1 shot and Nasir had 4.  In 18 and 26 minutes respectively.  They clearly were not able or willing to bang bodies down low, and that is not Pitt basketball.  I must say that I was extremely disappointed by that, and it has to change by Tuesday or Indiana will have a fun night with us.  Fortunately, that wasn’t the only part of classic Pitt basketball to take a hike tonight.  We actually made 76.9% of our free throws instead of the normal sub 50% night I’m used to.  So I guess the team giveth and the team taketh away.

Overall, this was a game to forget for both teams, so I’ll leave with one more sentiment: we’ve got some more guys coming back soon, but I sure hope that was an anomaly because it will be a looooooong season if it wasn’t.

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